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Global goal of education for all set to be delayed by more than half a century, Unesco warns

Report finds target for universal primary and secondary education by 2030 is not due to be achieved until 2084

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Report finds target for universal primary and secondary education by 2030 is not due to be achieved until 2084

A global goal of ensuring that all children complete primary and secondary education is set to be missed by more than 50 years, according to new research from the United Nations agency Unesco.

Unesco’s 2016 Global Education Monitoring (GEM) report, published this morning, found that a goal of universal primary and secondary education was on course to be reached by 2084.

The sustainable development goals (SDGs), a set of targets for United Nations member states agreed last year, state that by 2030, all girls and boys should complete “free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education.”

Today’s report is the first official monitoring report for the new goals. It said “chronic under-financing” for education was holding back progress and that aid to education would need to rise six-fold in order to fund quality universal primary and secondary education by 2030.

It found financial aid for education had actually fallen between 2010 and 2014.

The report said that, on current trends, universal primary education would only be achieved in 2042; universal lower secondary completion in 2059; and universal upper secondary completion in 2084.

It said the poorest countries were projected to achieve universal primary education a century later than the richest countries. However, it also found that no countries in Europe and Northern America were on track to achieve universal upper secondary education completion by 2030.

“Achieving global education commitments requires an unprecedented and immediate break with past trends,” said Irina Bokova, director-general of Unesco. “A fundamental change is needed in the way we think about education’s role in global development, because it has a quantum impact on the well-being of individuals and the prosperity of our societies.”

Vikas Pota, chief executive of education charity the Varkey Foundation, said: “It is very worrying that, at current rates, we are on course to miss the sustainable development goal on education by decades.  

“Today’s children will be retiring before we manage to provide a decent education for every child.

“It is truly appalling that between 2013 and 2014 education aid actually fell - a sign that international political will has dissipated on the subject.   

“We need a massive increase in international aid. Most important, we need to stop education being the ‘Cinderella’ cause whose budgets are cut whenever times are tough.”

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